Popular south Indian actress Nithya Menon says she is against sexual harassment and that she has a different way of countering it. She chose not be a part of a grouping as she prefers to fight it “silently”.
Last February, an actress had been kidnapped and assaulted in Kochi. Then it emerged that the abduction was allegedly masterminded by Malayalam superstar Dileep.
Later, actresses like Parvathy and women behind the scenes such as director Anjali Menon got together to launch the Women in Cinema Collective to identify the problems faced by women in the Malayalam film industry and explore ways to address them.
Nithya, who has starred in Malayalam films like Ustad Hotel (2012), Apsaras (2014) and Iru Mugan (2016) and was not a part of it.
In a previous interview, she had stated that she had never faced sexual harassment. But after reading about women from Malayalam cinema getting assaulted and some of her fraternity members forming a collective, didn’t she feel like joining them?
“I completely understand the thing that people are facing. I do everything possible to counter it. Just because I am not doing it one way, doesn’t mean that I am not countering those things or I am not against it. I am, but I have a different approach,” Nithya replied after a long pause during a telephonic interview with IANS.
“I believe that my way is only through my work. The way that I work and the kind of things that I do, the way that I approach people when I am working… all of this gives a strong message to people that I am working with, and to people who are watching my films.
“I have the same view as everybody else, but I prefer doing it my way. I don’t think that somebody is doing anything wrong or I don’t want to be a part of it. I am very much part of it. It’s just that I have a different way of countering the whole thing,” she added in the interview from Thiruvananthapuram, where she will be shooting for the upcoming Malayalam film Kolamb.
Will she walk out of a film if someone from it gets accused of sexual misconduct?
“Absolutely, and I have,” said the young actress without naming the film.
“I do it, but I do it silently. I have said ‘no’ to a film because of something like that,” said Nithya.
She has many films lined up, including Mission Mangal which will mark her debut in Hindi cinema.
Director Jagan Shakti and producer R Balki had called her, saying: “We would love you to play a scientist in a really interesting film that we are doing. They also told me that (actor) Akshay Kumar was keen on me being a part of the film,” she said.
“In the past also, I was offered plenty of Hindi films. I just wanted to be as choosy with Hindi as I was with films in other languages that I have done. I wanted it (debut Hindi film) to be a really nice film. I found this a nice character. I don’t think we have done a film like this… you know, a space film,” said Nithya, who made her debut as a lead actress with Kannada film 7 O’Clock (2006) over a decade ago.
The upcoming film, for which she will begin shooting from November-end in Mumbai and Bengaluru, will also feature actresses like Taapsee Pannu, Sonakshi Sinha and Vidya Balan.
“I don’t think ‘Is it just me? Am I the central character?’ I always look at the bigger picture. I don’t look at it as something that’s only for me. I look at it from the movie’s perspective — is it a good film? Would I want to watch the film?”
Vidya and Nithya will also be seen together in a biopic on the legendary actor-politician NT Rama Rao.
“I met her (Vidya) at the shoot of NTR’s biopic. We have one scene together. She said she had watched my films O Kadhal Kanmani (2015) and Bangalore Days (2014),” said Nithya.
Nithya will star in another biopic, playing late politician Jayalalitha in The Iron Lady.
“I am doing so many other films before that. I am doing another Malayalam film about a national level athlete. It’s going to be like Dangal. After that only, I will be getting into the biopic,” she said.
“The film on Jayalalitha is very heavy. I was very impressed when the film’s director Priyadarshini came with the film to me. She was so focussed. I told her that if we are doing a biopic, we should ensure complete justice to the character. She was going in the right direction and was extremely confident. I am really looking forward to do that film. That will be interesting to explore as an artiste,” she said.